Meet the CEO of Coffee YouTube – Archyde

“We’re telling the story of coffee wrong,” he says Jacob Hoffman, the 2007 World Barista Champion, author of The world atlas of coffee, and lately the host of an incredibly popular and influential YouTube channel about coffee– with 1.1 million subscribers and counting. “We start with this totally abstract thing: a bush people have never seen, covered with fruit they’ve never seen, in a country they’ve probably never been to. Then we say, ‘Here are ten more steps coffee goes through that don’t look like coffee.’”

In a $100 billion industry that can take itself a little seriously, the Staffordshire-born Hoffmann offers a knowledgeable, sometimes cheeky, and always fun approach to coffee that encourages his fans to seek joy and more than just a caffeine hit found in their coffee everyday cup. Recorded in a London studio, his videos vary in length and cadence, from deeply informative to silly and irreverent – at one point he wore a ’70s outfit, a fake mustache and all to demonstrate how it’s done Car coffee machine from that time is pretty much just a piece of plastic that slightly heats water.

Hoffmann is no stranger to clichés about coffee consumption. A common theme among coffee professionals is how little coffee costs – and yet a common refrain from coffee drinkers is how expensive good coffee can be. But Hoffmann isn’t interested in scolding anyone, and in this conversation, conducted over Zoom on the very first day of 2022, we talked about cultivating joy, starting with the end consumer. Instead of teaching coffee drinkers, Hoffmann makes videos on topics that interest him personally. For some, it’s watching, buying and testing everything Coffee brewing equipment sold by IKEA. For others it is the ultimate learning V60 Brautechnik. And for the odd few (i.e., this author) it feels like you’re right next to Hoffmann as he tries to figure out why on earth Aldi made an espresso martini flavored cheese.

They have a book, a YouTube channel, and a coffee roastery; They once had a blog; They give lectures. . . When did you realize that you are a person who has ideas about coffee that you want to share with others?
In October 2004 when I started the blog, Jimseven. At this point I felt extremely isolated in London as I didn’t know any other people interested in coffee. I was really interested in learning more and thought, ‘If I can explain it to someone else, I’ll understand better. Then the internet will probably tell me where I’m wrong.” Blogging about the things I learned made me feel like part of a global community.

Your YouTube channel was popular before the pandemic, but as people stayed home and made coffee alone, your channel gained a ton of new followers. In April 2020 you had around 250,000 subscribers. Now you have more than a million. How do you decide what kind of videos to make?
I have a running document with about 150 ideas. Ideas go through a vague selection process and I ask, “What do I want to do? What is interesting to me and what could interest many people?” I now have the luxury of not having to look at the 30-day performance window. It’s not just about, “What’s going to go well this week?”

YouTube hasn’t had a lot of coffee creators for a long time, and that’s changing quite a bit now, which is good because there are loads of videos that I don’t feel like I need to make because other people can make them. I don’t feel the need to be a completist and implement every idea I have.

Does your audience expect a certain type of video from you or from you to cover certain topics?
If they do, they don’t get it. I don’t have a schedule. I will not post on any specific day. When a video is done, it’s done, and then you can have it. [Laughs.] I’m not just going to do the things that work well and I’m not going to do the things that people keep asking me to do. If you’ve been watching the channel for a while, it’s everywhere.

But I mean, that’s kind of the point. Coffee is huge, and it’s fun and interesting. I want to find the people who are interested in all the different little pieces. I’m not here to change people’s minds. I am here to bring pleasure through coffee. When a person comes to the canal and is a moka pot devotee and watches that Video about the moka pot and is like, “Yeah, that was interesting, what else do you have?” and they watch two or three more videos, then your idea of ​​coffee gets challenged. And that’s useful.

If I just made videos about how to brew coffee, if I just did equipment reviews, I would be very sad and I would have quit. I want to make videos in which I juice vegetables Making broth because we can use things we know about coffee to tell us that increasing the surface area of ​​something means we can extract more flavor. My promise is inconsistency and variation, and I deliver every time.

“It is a terrifying miracle that the seed of a tropical tree sits in people’s cupboards and they soak it in water every morning with their breakfast and their pennies.”

As someone who focuses on accessibility and making information easier to understand, why has it been so difficult for professionals to talk about coffee? Why were we so presumptuous in the beginning?
If you’ve worked in the coffee industry, you may have had this experience: “Wow, that thing is amazing!” It gets you very excited, and that gets you talking about what’s exciting about it for you.

What happened is that you went through a journey. That’s very exciting, but the person you’re talking to hasn’t made the journey, so they have no context for what you’re talking about. Going all the way down the rabbit hole when you’re excited and passionate about what’s right, good, and tasty makes it really difficult to have that conversation unless you’re full of empathy for the person on the other end . As empathetic as you may be, when you’re in that fresh phase of excitement you just want to tell people, “Hey, milk spoils the taste of coffee!” Milk and sugar are delicious—but they spoil the taste of coffee. We don’t have a good support network to teach someone about coffee because many of us have been indoctrinated by someone who is also passionate and enthusiastic.

“Coffee’s worst enemy is that it’s secretly fascinating.”

I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that the end of the rabbit hole is kind of . . . grim. It usually includes many sad facts about coffee, such as that it is a product of colonization and that climate change is ravaging crops and that we don’t pay enough for coffee. It’s not fun to talk about, and it’s not exactly effective in bringing these facts up to customers.
It’s a terrifying miracle that the seed of a tropical tree sits in people’s cupboards and they soak it in water with their breakfast every morning and it’s pennies — it is a few cents. We as a species built a system that allowed this, and it shouldn’t. And we made pennies by squeezing the least powerful. This raised the expectation that coffee would cost pennies.

I feel like the fact that it’s so demonstrably easy to buy coffee for pennies makes the conversation about it being so cheap really difficult because it’s always been so cheap. How can it be wrong when it’s always been so cheap? But it’s the seed of a tropical tree that about 30 people have carefully handled for you all the way here. The fact that it’s in your home is magical.

How do you take on the heavier work of encouraging people to appreciate coffee?
I think we asked the end users of coffee to take care of the wrong thing. We asked them to take on a level of guilt and ethical burden that I think actually made it difficult for them to just enjoy coffee. I think my approach over the past few years has been more like, “Hey, coffee is delicious and fun.” Coffee offers a good return on investment, depending on where you choose to invest. If you want a hobby, you can dive deep. If you like crafting, there are many gadgets to learn. If you just want better coffee, it’s not expensive. It’s fun and interesting and actually quite accessible and you can enjoy yourself. I truly believe that all of this ethical hand-wringing should sit squarely on the shoulders of the roasters making the decisions that have an impact.

There are deep, ethical issues surrounding coffee, but I just don’t think we should burden the people we want to drink and enjoy, because to achieve what we need to achieve requires customers to spend more, but they must want to spend more because it gives them joy and pleasure. What I do with people on YouTube seems to resonate to show that every passionate person is a little bit ridiculous, and that’s okay. The friction we face is that we are passionate and serious. Occasionally, it’s okay to get out of the coffee and say, “You know we’re being ridiculous, right?” We’re being ridiculous, that’s very funny, and that’s okay.

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